August 12, 2015, in Featured Artists by Gilberto Jimenez
Irish artist Julie Potter recently gained some attention with her outsanding artwork on a huge billboard in the middle of London for being one of the Selected Artists for Primesight! Her unique signature style of bleaching black fabric to create her artwork has now gained the attention of many and her business has started to explode. Potter reveals some of her techniques and methods, what's coming next and tells us about her big billboard launch.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about your background as an artist?
JP: As long as I can remember, it was always the thing that came easiest to me, that and creative writing, anything imaginative. I studied design in Dublin, and then went on to do a fine art degree in Galway. I specialised in textiles and attained a Bachelor of Design graduating with the Student of the Year Award. After leaving college I started teaching Art and put my own work on the backburner for a while. So, in the last few years I have really focused on my own professional practice. I started working quite prolifically on my art and have since had three solo shows.
TH: Tell us more about your unique medium, using bleach on fabric. What got you started on this?
JP: I always experimented with textiles in college, creating pieces for fashion, interior and textile art. I was obsessed with trying to capture light in my work. I initially started creating t shirts and hoodies painted with bleach and fabric marker. The first time I did this, something in my brain clicked and I was so inspired by the luminosity of it. It was like a button had been pressed and I couldn’t stop.
I love starting out with black fabric and working in reverse. Traditionally art is created by adding pigment rather than taking it away so I love the challenge of this. I then started framing some of my t-shirts. This led me to realise how effective bleach is on jersey,‘t-shirt’ fabric, as it picks up subtleties in shade and variations in the intensity of the bleach very quickly. Although, sometimes when you walk away from a piece and come back it can have dramatically changed!
I play around with the ratio of bleach to water to get different effects, different spray bottles, brushes (a lot of my brushes disintegrate quite quickly!). I went from there into buying t-shirt fabric on a large roll. This is where my work increased in scale dramatically. I love to create large scale pieces. The thing about the bleach that I love is the glow and the element of chance.
TH: How long does it usually take you to create a piece?
JP: I always find this question hard to answer, I have no sense of time, especially when I am painting. From the original photography, composing different elements, it may be a guy with a hoodie, a particular umbrella I like or a building front I like. I combine the elements together from these to create the general composition. I also create faces that don’t exist, different features I admire to create a face in the picture, almost bumping in to the camera in the ‘snap-shot’ style compositions. All these elements happen before I even begin to paint. So, the short answer is it depends on the size but probably a couple of weeks. The bleaching part is an instant, fast sort of medium that can’t be re-worked like oils for example. I am always working on the balance between controlling it and letting the element of chance happen, such as a drop of bleach sliding down the canvas.
TH: Who is your artistic inspiration?
JP: I often get asked what is my artistic inspiration but not who. I don’t think it is anyone specifically. I am a huge fan of street art, I love how current and fresh it feels, I like the unpolished feel of urban, street art. I like to think of my work as a street style that can be brought indoors. There is also something quite precious and tactile about fabric that I like too.
TH: What advice do you wish you had when you first started out?
JP: I feel like I'm still only starting out myself and afraid I don't have any key advice to share in that regard. I feel like I'm still learning every day.
TH: You were recently a Selected Artist for the Design #TheUltimateCanvas for Primesight Creative Invite, and got to attend the official launch party in London! Tell us what your experience was like?
JP: It was a really positive experience from the start, everyone was friendly and personable. I didn’t know what to expect but I found everyone to be very welcoming.
TH: How was it meeting the client you created for in person?
JP: It was really good. Sometimes when using social media, as great as it is, it all seems a bit surreal so to actually meet the people involved, see what they were doing and how the two worlds, the corporate and creative world, could meet and mutually benefit each other was interesting.
TH: What did you do when you found out you were chosen as the Selected Artist?
JP: I was about to go to bed, so I had a quick flick through my emails and when I saw ‘Talenthouse, ‘Urgent’ on the email I sat up and thought ‘Oh, what’s this?’ I was so happy to see the message saying I was one of the winners. I had a big smile stuck on my face! I think my family thought I had gotten the size of the billboard wrong!
TH: Do you have any other projects you are currently working on, or planning on doing?
JP: I am working on some commissions at the moment. My main plan is to continue with the urban theme in my work, the city streets full of people moving from one place to another and capturing some of the unexpected beauty found in that. I am travelling to Berlin, which I think will be a great place for inspiration. I'm hoping to exhibit my work in London soon.
I was very fortunate to be one of the Selected Artists for a Creative Invite. It has generated a lot of awareness for my work and given me the inspiration to research options for me to exhibit in London as I feel London is the market that will appreciate and potentially invest in my work. Being part of the collaboration between Primesight and Talenthouse has been a thrill! Having my work shown on a giant billboard in London has been such an amazing experience. Exposure is everything in the art world and knowing that my work has been seen by so many people has been very inspiring. It gives validation to the work I am doing, something I do instinctively, that I am compelled to do. I've enjoyed the new enquiries and supportive feedback that have come from this opportunity. I've also happily noticed a rise in commissions and sales of my work! Check out my work online.
Learn more about Julie Potter on Talenthouse, Facebook, Twitter, and website.